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Blood and iron by Elizabeth Bear

Blood and iron (edition 2006)

by Elizabeth Bear

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7803616,860 (3.67)86
Title:Blood and iron
Authors:Elizabeth Bear
Info:New York : ROC, c2006.
Collections:Your library, 150 books in 2015

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Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear

Recently added byChristopher_Pettitt, private library, LenoreR, tribblemaker, yas4735, tkangaroo, TomBrady12
  1. 11
    Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones (bell7)
    bell7: While Blood and Iron draws on the legends of Tam Lin, Arthur, and others, Fire and Hemlock is solely a retelling of Tam Lin. Both are slightly strange retellings, but do so in entirely different manners.

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English (35)  French (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
This was my first book by Elizabeth Bear. It is intended to be the first book in (I quote from Bear's website) "a sprawling same-world fantasy cycle beginning in Summer 2006 with Blood & Iron, followed in 2007 by Whiskey & Water. These books deal with the five-century-old silent war between Faerie and the iron world, and the lives altered and destroyed on either side."
I really wanted to like this book a lot, but I found it hard to get into. It was very similar, I thought, to many other books that deal with the interaction of Faerie with modern-day American life. I was reminded at many points, strongly, of Charles DeLint, and at a few points of Laurell Hamilton (no explicit sex, though, just soap-opera-esque choosing between lovers).
Basically, our protagonist, Elaine, is the Seeker of the Seelie court. It's her job to track down part-Fae in the human world, and to bring them back to Annwyn. She's got a complicated thing going on with her ex- (and father of her child), who happens to be a werewolf. She's also got a Sidhe water-horse called Whiskey bound to her, who keeps trying to seduce her. Meanwhile, a coven of human mages is trying to cut the human world off from Faerie permantly, possibly destroying it completely in the process. But there're also alliances and conflicts to consider with Hell, Heaven, the Unseelie Court, the Merlin (not who you'd expect), Arthur (who you'd expect), the Dragon of Britain, Medb (the Faerie Queen), the werewolf pack, Morgan le Fay, talking trees (a sly homage to Tolkien in there), and lots more.
Possibly too much more. I felt that the book lost focus, because it started out seeming like it was going to mostly be about the Merlin and her loyalites/decisions, but she wound up being only a small part of what eventually happened. There were too many complex characters and relationships jammed in, without time to really get to know many of the characters - althought I have to say that I did really like both Whiskey and the Merlin.
I also really liked Bear's take on the veracity of mythology... "yes, it was true, now. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Excellent ideas, but problematic execution.

Bear clearly had a wonderful idea for a plot and a world to put it in, and the skeletons of some interesting characters to act out the story. In theory, I really enjoyed the book.

That being said, the execution of the book left a lot to be desired. Probably my biggest complaint was in the pacing: it was all over the place, with characters being built up for importance, then fading into the background; relationships that were formed but never went anywhere; and subplots that rose and fell in importance seemingly at random.

The characters are worst hurt by the uneven pacing -- for instance, Carel is introduced as a vitally important character, we're meant to care about her choice between the Fae and the Magi, and we're given the impression that her choice will largely hang on her relationships with Seeker and Matthew. This does (sort of) end up being the case, but her choice is ultimately irrelevant, and as soon as her relationship with Seeker becomes sexual, that signals the end of any meaningful interactions between the two. As of the end of the book, I don't have any idea what either woman thinks of the other.

Most of the deaths of named characters are off-stage, with unresolved emotional arcs. Such is life, but in terms of the narrative, it's unsatisfying, to say the least.

I'll leave aside the issues with the language -- it was overly flowery for my tastes, and while I was pleased at recognizing all but one of the ballads quoted, I do feel that Bear went overboard with the constant references to Tam Lin. But that could just be a question of taste, rather than quality.

I wanted to like the this novel, and in the abstract, I think did. But I'm not sure I enjoyed reading it. ( )
2 vote oscillate_wildly | May 16, 2015 |
It’s a slow ride that is quietly demanding. Bear makes no allowances for her reader’s familiarity with faerie tales or Irish pronunciation, weaving the implicit weight of her chosen myths into her own sharp tale of the war between Faerie and Man. If you don’t know what you’re missing, I suspect there’s plenty here that comes as a surprise or that seems a bit sketchy; if you have long loved Irish myth and the Matter of Britain, you probably get a good deal more out of it.

This is a dark, complex tale of bright bells, brave banners, high magic and bloody betrayals. Bear has done a fine job of sketching the Fae as I’ve always seen them - heartless, soulless and captivating - and understands that the differences between the Seelie and the Unseelie are little more than split hairs if you’re a mere human. Nonetheless, she deftly wins you to the Faerie cause as her human Magi declare war, merciless in her conviction that no side is any better than another.

There were the odd points that raised my hackles (mostly from the werewolves, who I took exception to for most of the same reasons as Elaine, and who felt the least incorporated of all the myths in the weft) but overall this is a fine if occasionally stodgy read. My main beef was with the Kindle formatting, which didn't show breaks in points of view. I suspect these have multiple line breaks in the printed edition - in Kindle, the paragraphs merge together, having suddenly changed time, location and perspective, which kept me on my toes and made it tricky to find handy stopping points!

If you don’t like faeries and Arthurian myth, avoid like the plague. If you do, this is another strong addition with a bittersweet lilt familiar to any reader of GGK. ( )
  imyril | Mar 27, 2015 |
  Ebeth.Naylor | Sep 30, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Bearprimary authorall editionscalculated
Youll, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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But first ye'll let the black gae by,
And then ye'll let the brown;
Then I'll ride on a milk-white steed,
You'll pull me to the ground.
- "Tam Lin," Child Ballad version #39C
This book is for the Bad Poets and for Jennifer Jackson, who between them made me keep writing it until I got it right.
First words
Mathew the Magician leaned against a wrought iron lamppost on Forty-second Street, idly picking at the edges of his ten iron rings and listening to his city breathe into the warm September night.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451460928, Paperback)

She is known as Seeker. Spellbound by the Faerie Queen, she has abducted human children for her mistress’s pleasure for what seems like an eternity, unable to free herself from servitude and reclaim her own humanity.

Seeker’s latest prey is a Merlin. Named after the legendary wizard of Camelot, Merlins are not simply those who wield magic––they are magic. Now, with the Prometheus Club’s agents and rivals from Faerie both vying for the favor of this being of limitless magic to tip the balance of power, Seeker must persuade the Merlin to join her cause—or else risk losing something even more precious and more important to her than the fate of humankind.…

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:18 -0400)

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Average: (3.67)
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2 14
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